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Girish Karnad's latest play is based on a little- known myth from the Mahabharata. Intrigued by the tale's dramatic possibilities when he first came upon it, he worked on it for 37 years, finally completing it when the prestigious Guthrie Theatre of Minneapolis, USA, commissioned him to write a play for them.
Karnad originally wrote it in Kannada and has now translated it into English.
The action of the play is centered around a seven-year long fire sacrifice designed to persuade the gods to send rain. The narrative is taut and the play fraught with unremitting tension, as betrayal, murder and seduction enmesh the characters who live out their destinies in a tumult of elemental passions.
With its philosophical underpinnings, the play illuminates universal themes of love, jealousy and loneliness as it sweeps towards an unexpected denouement.
The Notes by the playwright shed light on the background and important aspects of this powerful play and should be especially helpful to readers unacquainted with Indian mythology.
About the Author
Girish Karnad Apart from working in the theatre, he has directed and acted in films. He has served as Director, Film and Television Institute of India; Chairman, Sangeet Natak Akademi (the National Academy of the Performing Arts); and Director, the Nehru Centre, London. He has been honoured with the Padma Bhushan and conferred the prestigious Jnanpith Award.
(5 out of 5)
Vishaka as an Courageous Woman of Karnad's Play
Reviewer: M.Amalraaj from Thanjavur, Tamilnadu, India
Comparing to the characters of Padmini, Rani and Queen, it is Vishaka who stands for her boldness even after committing adultery with Yavakri. Her long speech is a kind of whiplash given to the male-chauvinistic and dominated society. Paravasu gives much importance to his profession - a seven year fire-sacrifice - and totally ignore her inner feelings. At this juncture, her ex-lover Yavakri comes and deceives her through his honeyed words. The dry tinder woman Vishaka becomes his victim, of course, she does not get deceived. Her seven long year loneliness makes her yield to his love. According to her, men are experimenters who experiment the body of women in the name of married life.
He hates Paravasu for his irresponsibility as a husband. She thinks that Yavakri as her world as he has satisfied her longings and becomes her consolation. Even she tries to save him from the wrath of her father-in-law. She dares to fight against him for the sake of Yavakri.But when she learns his crooked-mindedness, she herself becomes the cause for his end but not intentionally. Even when her husband returns home, of course, not for her.
She daringly putsforth her arguement that he is the sole cause for her adultery and further, she accuses his father as he is the root-cause for everything happened. Therefore the play depicts Vishaka as an courageous and existentialist as she could come out of the shackles of the male-chauvnistic society.
(5 out of 5)
Thrilling saga of love
Reviewer: Geet Bhatia from Shimla,Himachal Pradesh
The fire and the rain is an exceptional work of Girish Karnad. Mythical elements are fantastically woven to form a play.